Riley Barger scored the game-winning goal, her first as a Terrapin (file photo courtesy of Ken Harriford)
Except for the outcome, this game was close to the opposite of the Terrapins’ last game. Against Villanova, the team was nerve-wrackingly down until the last few minutes, then scored three quick goals to gain the win. Tonight, Maryland scored twice early and held on easily the rest of the way for a virtually suspenseless game.
Head coach Jonathan Morgan was clear which he preferred. “I like the first five. I would take that. We asked them to come out in the first twenty and be dangerous, try to put this team away early. They responded that way.”
It took under two minutes for Maryland to get on the scoreboard. George Mason senior goalkeeper Lyndse Hokanson made a cardinal mistake when she tried to outrace Maryland senior forward Hayley Brock to a ball over the top from sophomore defender Shannon Collins and didn’t get there in time, leaving her marooned well out the right side of the box from her perspective as Brock dodged around her and sent a cross in that Riley Barger collected and sent into an unguarded net. Barger, a sophomore midfielder, was grinning from ear to ear after the match over the first goal in her Terrapins career but was modest about how it came about. “Hayley crossed it into the box. I was just there to poke it in the goal. I really didn’t do that much.”
Five minutes later freshman midfielder Lauren Berman took the ball away from a Patriot midfielder and opportunistically slotted the ball to Brock, who was behind defenders on the left but kept onside by defenders on the right. Brock collected the ball, brought it into the box, and rolled it into the bottom right netting past Hokanson.
And that would be just about it for Maryland being dangerous offensively, much to Morgan’s disappointment. “I would have preferred a better performance throughout the ninety minutes, just a little bit more consistent, a little bit cleaner, a little but sharper in some areas, but we scored two goals. We just kind of lost our flow, our rhythm. Our soccer just ended up being not as good as it could have been. Maybe that’s the product of having a two-goal lead, a product of the atmosphere not being as electric as it was the other night. It could have been a little better.”
The Terrapins would get a third goal in the eightieth minute off a Shannon Collins free kick from well over on the left about thirty yards out. She sent it to the far post, where it bounced off Cory Ryan and to the feet of Berman, who took a quick toe poke at it, sending it off the bottom of the crossbar and in.
Despite the lackluster performance in this match and having lost a bevy of key players from last year to graduation, Barger is happy with where the team is now. “I think we’re doing really well. This time last year we weren’t as far as we are right now, so I think everyone is really making an effort to work together and get connected and go the extra mile and get everything done and be the best we can be. I feel like everyone’s stepped up a lot. We’ve been trying to fill those shoes that we lost.”
George Mason plays North Florida at home on Sunday at 1 pm, then plays at St. Francis on Thursday at 4 pm.
Maryland plays Navy on Sunday at 7 pm at Ludwig Field, then flies to California the following weekend to face Santa Clara and #2 Stanford.